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Tuesday, 27 August 2013

View From The Sunny Field: Bloodstock Day 3

Bloodstock Festival, Catton Hall, Burton On Trent Day 3

So our final day on BOA's hallowed turf had a leisurely beginning and a hectic end. We missed the two opening bands and made our way in for the third band on the bill as once we were in the arena it would be all systems go!

Sacred Mother Tongue

These Northampton bruisers came out flying with riff after riff from virtuoso Andy James peeling off heavy grooves and technical solos with every song. His muscular riffage is as always complimented by the strong melodic vocals of Darrin South. The band does what they do very well and were a nice mid paced start to ease into the day. However my one criticism would be that they only played tracks from their latest album and nothing from their debut. I can see the logic in this but as a fan of the band since the first album I would have liked Two Thousand Eight Hundred but we got Demons, Bleeding Out and Seven. So a strong showing from SMT but not one for the hardcore. 7/10

Passing up Fozzy we had a small break before our party halved with half going to see Amorphis and the others heading towards Evil Scarecrow

Amorphis (Chris Hutchings)

Looking at the 45 minute set and thinking “wow, only 7 songs; that’s not very much at all”. However,
watching Amorphis was pretty damn absorbing and those seven songs went by extremely fast.  Tomi Joutsen (Vocals) did an excellent job, chatting to the crowd in-between songs whilst keeping it short and kept the rhythm going making it a pleasure to watch as well as wind milling with his extremely long dreadlocks which was incredible! His microphone was also uniquely shaped and rather impressive to see. There were not many technical difficulties for these guys at all considering that all weekend there had been problems although they did come on stage about 5 minutes late.  When they did arrive, they paced the set just right, interacting with the crowd just enough to not over play it. The atmosphere down the front for these guys was superb and it was very easy to get caught up in it and sing along and head bang and just generally rock out to this band. From the set list, it was clear that Sky Is Mine was the favourite song of the set and the most commonly known judging by the reaction of the crowd who comprised of some diehards and more than a few first timers. So when Amorphis next tour I would definitely go and check them out. Well worth it and to quote the wise words of Mr Brett Perry get down the front! 7/10

Evil Scarecrow

The Sophie tent was at first empty while the band warmed up however it filled quickly, as we waited two lovely girls came through the crowd and handed out party poppers and gave specific instructions that they should not be used "Until Dr Hell tells you". With the instructions taken on board we waited and the band stormed on stage to Verdi's Messa da Requiem throwing their trademark shapes to this classical piece. From then on it was outright metal from the off, things started with Choose Metal their opening track of choice and the now massive crowd was shouting right back, banging heads, throwing horns and enjoying the metal party for what it was. Some call Evil Scarecrow a parody band, they aren't they are a band that have more fun than any other playing the music they love! With the first song out of the way the noticeably impressed Dr Hell exchanged expletives that were used to convey his disbelief and then plunged into the second song the bands emo anthem Blacken The Everything which was the first part of the bands legendary crowd interaction, getting the packed tent to fake cry (although Hell do it for real) for them. The song is led by the hypnotic drums of Monty Blitzfist and the keys and samples of Princess Luxury and got the crowd chanting along with its hook filled chorus. After this brief slowing in pace we were told that the bands and I quote "no expense spared" pyro display would be used during the next song so we got out party poppers ready and let them off when told to during the song War And Seek covering the metal heads in attendance with coloured streamers adding to the party atmosphere. More crowd participation on the fantastic new song Crabulon which involved much pincer moving, scuttling form one side of the tent to the other and the disturbing sight of man mountain bassist Kraven Morrdeth sitting on Dr Hell's knee. The early guitar filled Ra Vs. Thor was next showing off the guitar talents of Dr Hell and Brother Pain, before things got serious for the future classic Robotoron which came with the obligatory perfect robot circles and the massive metal knees up of cover Final Countdown which I'm sure they will stop playing at some point and we were treated to the bands resident mad man Brother Pain solo from atop the bar and crowd surf at the end of the song. This was a triumphant show from the Nottingham natives that left no doubt in anyone's mind that Evil Scarecrow are defiantly one of the best live bands in the UK. 10/10

So suitably knackered with the largest grins ever seen on our faces we made our way back to rendezvous with the rest of our group.

Exodus

Now I've never seen the American thrashers live but I've been told that they are excellent and boy was I informed correctly. After the initial strains of an intro faded it was full speed, head smashing thrash mayhem from the outset with very little let up. The Ballad Of Leonard and Charles was first and proved it is anything but a ballad with the razor-sharp riffage of Gary Holt (pulling double duty) and Lee Atlus trading riffs at light speed determined to kill the crowd and aided by Tom Hunting's drumming. The pit was ferocious for all of the songs especially on A Lesson In Violence and the perennial Bonded By Blood which was used as a tribute to Jeff Hanneman and former Exodus vocalist Paul Baloff. There were no safety warnings here oh no. The music was thrash in its purest form  and the imposing presence and shouts of Rob Dukes make Exodus a forceful live act that are quite willing to destroy the crowd with pit inciting songs and the occasional wall of death. By the end of Strike Of The Beast those down the front were battered bruised and some bloody but most of all they had been blown away by the full on fury of Exodus in full flight. Good show indeed! 8/10

Devildriver

I'm sorry Dez but I'm afraid you've lost your touch a little. First it was a Coal Chamber reunion and now it's tarnished your day job as on my third viewing of Devildriver it was them that looked like the parody band. While trying not to sound like an uncool parent every song does indeed sound the same and rather than aiming for new sounds with some melodic light and shade they just go for relentless fury primarily to incite pits. These were appearing but I think many were already beaten by Exodus and were saving themselves for Anthrax who were coming next. Because of this Devildriver would have been better suited earlier meaning there was a glut of thrash following each other before the main event. As it was they just got a little lost in the mix. 5/10

Anthrax (Paul, Chris & Alex Hutchings)

After a less than inspiring set by Devildriver the front of the stage rapidly filled as Worship blasted out into the summer evening.  Racing onto the stage, Anthrax flew into one of their many anthems, the appropriately titled Caught In A Mosh. Down the front the pits opened up, and every word was mouthed. Say what you want about Anthrax, but they sure have some tunes and the opener is an all-time classic. Frank Bello as always racing around the stage, Scott Ian exchanging some frank and what looked like harsh words to his guitar tech, and there he was, the human sultana himself, Joey Belladonna urging the crowd to sing along. Now Belladonna can be a bit irritating but he was on top form, hitting the notes and running across the stage throughout ensuring that everyone got his attention. Following the opener they launched into an awesome version of NFL before the obligatory cover of Joe Jackson’s Got The Time. A little momentum was lost with dedications to RJD and Dimebag for In The End, leading to a couple of questions about why there was no dedication to Jeff Hanneman, given their membership of the Big 4. However, the band picked it right back up with a blast from the first album, Fistful Of Metal, delivering the opener from that album Death Rider with full force brutality. New guitarist, ex-Shadows Fall’s Jon Donais looked right at home stage right, hitting the solos whilst Scott Ian continued his usual energetic performance. He really is a legend. Anthrax then treated the crowd to a storming version of TNT (sigh of relief it wasn’t Anthem!) from their latest release, before wrapping up with Indians, Fight ‘Em Til You Can’t, and then the arrival of Dredd, for I Am The Law. Belladonna brought out the Judge that had been stomping around the festival site all weekend. As the crowd lapped it up, Anthrax finished off with their third cover of the day, Trust’s Antisocial. Like Priest with the Green Manalishi, Antisocial and Got The Time are now staples of the set and are treated very much as their own. Like ‘em or loathe ‘em, they always put on a show, and at BOA 2013 Anthrax were very much in the mood. One of the sets of the weekend. 9/10

Slayer

So with everyone getting a 40 minute rest bite from the madness we waited eagerly as the stage was set. No fancy stage dressing no fireworks or props just one backdrop that had the one word bellowed by metal fans all around the world. Yes it was time for Slayer, probably the heaviest and still the most underground of all of the Big 4 a band that appeals to mainstreamers and those that worship at the tomb of Euronymous and everyone in between. No intro tape no fuss no messing the band were onstage in heartbeat and launched into World Painted Blood which was followed in quick succession by Disciple it is an odd sight to see thousands of heads all moving in tandem but Slayer are one of the few bands that command this. Unrelenting and violently aggressive they are band that don't do crowd interaction but let their music do the talking. A small break ended with Tom Araya's shriek that signals the still dazzling, breakneck riffage of War Ensemble which proceeded to incite the mother of all pits down the front forcing us at the back to take a few steps back. Not one to play a slow song the pace continued with Hallowed Point the Bill Bailey approved Mandatory Suicide before Altar Of Sacrifice and Jesus Saves continued to inflict more damage on those that dared to venture into the pit. With only two original members left Slayer are still a dominant live force with Gary Holt equally matching the speed and dexterity of Kerry King and Paul Bostaph showing why he has now replaced Dave Lombardo twice, Tom Araya was on keen vocal form hollering every line and shrieking like a banshee when needed. The set was punctuated by small episodes of silence meaning that it was not just one wall of noise, these little rests meant that the show flowed a lot smoother and stopped anyone from getting bored, although most of the crowd were mesmerised by the cacophony of violence unfolding before them. After Snuff and Hate Worldwide it was time for the greatest hits part of the programme the final crowd pleasing part of what had been a varied set. Firstly the dirge like doom intro of Seasons In The Abyss built up to its main pounding riff before another slow burner in the shape of the old school Hell Awaits this led to Araya's 'poem' of the refrain "Dance With The Dead In My Dreams" which signalled Dead Skin Mask which ended with the audio downpour that starts the evergreen(red) Raining Blood. Another pit and the main set was closed a small break and the back drop fell to reveal a large Hanneman memorial which incited a massive cheer from the crowd and was the only mention of it. Slayer are not a band to live in the past and dwell on sentimentality, no words were spoken the band just paid tribute to their fallen brother in the best way possible with two of his best songs the uber-doom South Of Heaven and the full on head ripper of Angel Of Death which showed both sides of the great man's talents. As the final chord hit there was silence and the band left the stage Araya walked straight off leaving Kerry King and Gary Holt to thank the crowd briefly before also making their way to the back. The crowd released their breath simultaneously and started to pour out of the arena. A simply stunning set from Slayer that will not be beaten for a good while awesome! 10/10

Roundup

So another Bloodstock and this one was the biggest ever mainly for the 'mainstream' draws of Slayer and LOG, it will be hard to see where BOA will go from here whether they will keep courting the arena bands or will go back to the more underground bands that made their name. Still a stunning set of bands, great music, great (and painful) memories and a hell of a good time! Roll on next year! My personal picks are Emperor (already confirmed), Amon Amarth/ Nightwish and Saxon!  

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